Enterprise resource planning
THE ENTERPRISE resource planning system (ERP) forms the heart of most modern companies. From large multinationals to municipalities, the concept of a centrally organised system to control what happens inside a company lies at the core of its IT infrastructure.
Finding a clear definition for ERP is almost impossible. Many refer to the manufacturing roots of the product, but as a concept it’s moved far beyond the manufacturing arena. The concept behind an ERP system is to bring all the various systems companies use under one umbrella. If you were making widgets you’d want to know what raw materials were being consumed, how many were being manufactured and to whom they were being sold. That was the original aim of ERP.
Today it’s a system intended to run almost every aspect of the modern business, from HR to finances from ordering pencils to the delivery of finished goods worth millions of rand.
Just as you might argue there’s no point when buying a home theatre system to individually pick out an amplifier, DVD player and speakers when you can buy one system with all those features. So going to one software supplier makes buying and managing systems substantially easier.
The problem is that while the idea of one system makes sense, in practice the big ERP vendors – such as SAP and Oracle – don’t pick up on emerging trends, leaving small companies to fill the gaps.